Go to contents

[Opinion] Roh’s Falling-Out Process

Posted December. 01, 2006 06:37,   


President Roh Moo-hyun and the Uri Party are accelerating their process of parting ways. It can be seen by the words exchanged between President Roh and Uri Chair Kim Geun-tae. The two were not too friendly to begin with, but their feelings are obvious now; it seemed as if they would start wagging fingers at each other in blame.

Yesterday, Kim said, “The party will no longer play a supporting role for the decisions of the government,” and the day before he mentioned that, “The Uri party will be in charge of the nation’s affairs like a rock.” What does this mean? It means, “We don’t want to clean up after the president. Let’s split. We don’t have to be the majority party. The Uri party is still the largest party with 139 seats in the National Assembly, and we are in charge.”

President Roh said yesterday, “I oppose creating a new party because it would be akin to factionalism. I will be faithful to the Uri Party. Whether in remaining or leaving the party, I will do whatever is necessary for the group.” It was a slightly different tone from the cabinet meeting on November 28, but it was still a statement declaring the possibility of leaving the party.

Up until this summer the two encouraged each other, saying, “Let’s face this together.” Kim stated in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo in June, “if the president leaves the party before his term ends, it will disable party politics. The Uri Party and President Roh should be judged together for the next presidential election.” It was only in August that President Roh said, “I won’t leave the party, and we will be together to face any difficulties even after my term expires.” He even joked, “I would be pleased even if they ask me to become an advisor.” In a matter of months the situation has changed.

The reasons for the split seem to be different on both sides. President Roh’s stance seems to be, “I don’t want a divorce, but if I’m in the way I’ll leave, in order to keep the party as it is. But if you’re planning to create a new party, you should leave instead.” The Uri Party seems to say, “We don’t want to be treated as a party of a president that is no longer popular, and we want to facilitate political reform.” President Roh’s ‘factionalism’ statement irritated the Uri Party, making it difficult to ameliorate relations. But what can be done? Divorce is not a one-sided affair.

Lee Jin-nyong, Editorial Writer, jinnyong@donga.com